Church staff

Church staff

  • David R. Lyle

    Senior Pastor

    David R. Lyle

    I have been serving as the senior pastor at Grace since August, 2015. It is a great joy to partner with the people of Grace in the work of bringing in, building up, and sending out people for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am passionate about proclaiming Christ and his kingdom through Word and sacrament. It is a joy to help people see how the Spirit is moving in their lives. Prior to my arrival at Grace, I served congregations in Pawleys Island, S.C., and Appleton, Wis. I also spent four summers doing outdoor ministry at several Lutheran camps and have extensive experience in youth ministry. I hold degrees from The College of William & Mary and Luther Seminary. As the recipient of Luther’s Graduate Preaching Fellowship, I spent nine months as a Visiting Scholar with the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. My wife, Erika, and I reside in Oak Park with our three children, Greta, Anders, and Torsten. I am an avid sports fan, cheering on the Kansas City Royals, Green Bay Packers, and Wisconsin Badgers and, in my free time, enjoy reading, running, and playing guitar.

  • Troy Medlin

    Associate Pastor

    Troy Medlin

    I have been serving as associate pastor at Grace since mid-November of 2020. It is a deep joy to partner with the people of Grace as we walk by the Spirit and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ in word and deed. I am passionate about finding connections between worship and life in the world. I particularly love partnering with God’s people of all ages in evangelism, connection, formation, and reflection, rooted in the God who has come down to us in Jesus Christ. Prior to joining the Grace staff I served in a number of diverse contexts including as a student pastor at Urban Village Church in Chicago and as the vicar at Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol HIll in Saint Paul, Minnesota. I hold degrees from Moody Bible Institute and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. I live in Oak Park with my husband, Ole. In my free time I enjoy spending time with family, running, reading, and cheering wholeheartedly for the Green Bay Packers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Chicago Blackhawks.

  • Michael D. Costello

    As the cantor at Grace, my primary job is to lead congregational singing. I do this by playing the organ, directing choirs, serving as an educator, coordinating music with other staff members, and working with others to lead the Bach Cantata Vespers. I grew up in a Lutheran church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I received my bachelor of arts in sacred music from Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina, and my master of divinity at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina, where I also served on the adjunct faculty in music and liturgy. I am a Lutheran pastor, have served congregations in Pennsylvania and the Carolinas as a musician, and also served as a pastor at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Columbia, South Carolina. I am married to Rebekah Weant Costello, also a Lutheran pastor. We have two children, Andrew and Lydia.

  • Pat Gulik

    Parish Nurse

    Pat Gulik

    I have been serving as the Parish Nurse at Grace since February 2019. The role of the parish nurse is to work with the Health Committee and staff to care for God’s people — body, mind and spirit — by helping to educate and support congregation members in making healthy lifestyle choices, and helping them to cope with illness, loss and life transitions. Feel free to contact me with questions about individual health problems or concerns, referrals for community resources, or for someone to be your advocate in your journey toward health.  

    I graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, from Rush University with a master's degree in nursing and completed the Foundations of Faith Community Nursing course through OSF HealthCare in Peoria, Illinois.  I have worked in both hospital and home health nursing; taught clinical nursing, and, most recently, worked in a large low-income senior housing development. Each of these areas has helped to prepare me for this unique position. 

    My husband, Rick, and I live in La Grange Park. We have three grown sons and one grandson.  

  • Julie Modrich

    Children's Ministry Coordinator

    Julie Modrich

    Children's Ministry Coordinator

    Ext. 229

    jmodrich@graceriverforest.org

    I have been blessed to serve as Children’s Ministry Coordinator at Grace since July, 2013. Working closely with Board of Discipleship, I coordinate programs and activities for Sunday School, family devotionals, festivals, Family Night and Vacation Bible School. I'm also the director of Grace School's Extended Day Care. I truly enjoy working with elementary-age children. My husband, Joe, and I came to Grace in the fall of 2000, and our four children, Stefan, Anna, Katarina and Peter, were baptized here in January, 2001. Before joining the Grace staff I was a volunteer teacher in Sunday School and Confirmation classes, and I currently serve on the Altar Guild. I graduated from Illinois State University with a B.S. in psychology and a minor in Parks and Recreation Administration. My professional career began at Little City Foundation in Palatine working in aquatics with special populations from children through seniors. I also have served as the Aquatics and Fitness Coordinators for the Niles and Des Plaines park districts. When our oldest son was born, I changed career direction and began teaching preschool and mom and tot classes.

  • Gwen Gotsch

    Communications Coordinator

    Gwen Gotsch

    Communications Coordinator

    Ext. 122

    ggotsch@graceriverforest.org

    I oversee communications at Grace, especially the web site and newsletters. At Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, I majored in music and theater and studied theater in graduate school at Indiana University in Bloomington. I worked for La Leche League International for many years, writing and editing promotional materials, as well as books on parenting and breastfeeding. I have grown-up children—Eliza and Kurt Grahnke, and the sainted Kristoffer Grahnke. When I'm not at Grace singing or working on communications projects, I like to knit, read, and occasionally direct plays.

  • Barb VanHeukelem

    Reception desk

    Barb VanHeukelem

    I have been a member of the Grace community for over 20 years, as a school parent, church member, and volunteer. Working at the reception desk at Grace, I enjoy the opportunity to assist our staff, committees and many volunteers as they carry out the ministries of Grace Church and School. I serve on Altar Guild and also enjoy cooking for the Cornerstones group. I have a B.A. from Calvin College and was previously employed in mental health and social services. My husband, Bruce and I are the parents of three adult daughters who are graduates of Grace School and grandparents of six.

  • Esther Armstrong

    Church Administrative Assistant

    Esther Armstrong

    Church Administrative Assistant

    Ext. 100

    earmstrong@graceriverforest.org

    I joined the front desk staff at Grace in August of 2020 and now serve as the Church Administrative Assistant.  It is a real joy to talk regularly with Grace members, prepare weekly worship materials, and work on lots of other projects that support the ministries of Grace Church. My husband, Neal, and I joined Grace in 2008 and our children, Rachel and Peter, attended Grace School from preschool through 8th grade and now attend OPRF High School.  Since joining Grace I have served the Grace community in many different roles and on various committees including Sunday School teacher, Junior Kindergarten aid, Children’s Religious Ed Committee, Grace Parent Organization, Board of Elementary Education, Council and Altar Guild.  I currently serve as a Stephen Minister.  I hold bachelor’s degrees in elementary education from Valparaiso University and in human nutrition and dietetics from University of Illinois at Chicago. I also enjoy working part-time as a dietitian and coordinator at a clinical research clinic. In my free time I enjoy reading, doing puzzles and spending time with my family and our two dogs, Bruno and Tobe.

  • Jim McClanahan

    Director of Administration and Finance

    Jim McClanahan

    Director of Administration and Finance

    Ext. 202

    jmcclanahan@graceriverforest.org

    I have been a member of Grace for over 20 years, during which I was active on Stewardship, Trustees, Endowment, and Board of Finance, and on Church Council as Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer. I am excited about continuing to serve Grace in my role as Director of Administration and Finance. I am a Certified Public Accountant. I previously spent over 35 years in public accounting helping organizations with the accuracy of their financial records and reports, and consulting with them about the quality of their financial processes and their compliance with rules and regulations. I grew up in the Cleveland area and attended Miami University in Ohio. My wife, Beth Smoots, is also an active Grace member. We are the proud parents of two former Grace School students. Pierce works in Chicago for the international accounting firm of Ernst & Young and Annie works for WellRight, a Chicago-based employee wellness software organization. I have also served on the Foundation and Charitable Boards of Bethesda Rehab and Senior Care. In my free time, I enjoy golfing, gardening and reading.

  • José Meza

    I recently joined the Grace Lutheran staff as the Technology Manager. I have been in the information technology field for over 30 years. Previously I worked at a major law firm for 20 years and Chicago Board of Trade for 13 years. I am married and have a 22-year-old son who currently attends Northwestern University. In my off time I do enjoy baseball (White Sox), Football (Bears), and Formula One (Red Bull). I look forward to working here at Grace.

  • Cecelia Thornton

    Business Office Assistant

  • Richard Brooks

    Facility Manager

    Richard Brooks

    I have been working at Grace for seven years. I am Facilities Manager, plus Head Track and Cross Country Coach. I thoroughly enjoy my work since I like to make people happy and there are plenty of opportunities to do that at Grace every day. As Facilities Manager, I ensure the building is safe and clean for the teaching and ministry of Grace School and Church. I strive to accomplish tasks in a cheerful, efficient, and timely manner. As track and cross-country coach, I encourage kids to be the best they can be. Being part of a team, Grace athletes achieve things they never thought possible, thus building self-esteem and confidence.

    I was in the business world for thirty years. I graduated from the University of Illinois where I met my wife, Kathy, a teacher.  At the University of Illinois, I was an All-American in track and I received the Huff Award for Academics and Athletics. I was a Colson Scholar at Wheaton College in graduate school.

    Kathy and I have been married for 41 years. We have three grown children and two grandchildren.

  • Jay DeVries

    Assistant Facilities Manager

  • José Meza

    I recently joined the Grace Lutheran staff as the Technology Manager. I have been in the information technology field for over 30 years. Previously I worked at a major law firm for 20 years and Chicago Board of Trade for 13 years. I am married and have a 22-year-old son who currently attends Northwestern University. In my off time I do enjoy baseball (White Sox), Football (Bears), and Formula One (Red Bull). I look forward to working here at Grace.